Ambassador for young Jews
Anna Staroselski stands up for young Jews in Germany. Read why German-Israeli cooperation is so important in this context.
Through her work, Anna Staroselski shows that the Jewish community in Germany is diverse - and numerousyoung Jews are actively engaged for German society. The 27-year-old is president of the German Union of Jewish Students (JSUD) and vice president of the German-Israeli Society. The daughter of Jewish quota refugees from Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, she was born and raised in Stuttgart. She is studying history at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and for five years has worked in the German Bundestag as a research associate for FDP members of parliament. We talked to her about her activities.
Ms Staroselski, while still at school you were elected district chairperson of the Stuttgart Youth Council South and were a volunteer youth support worker at the Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany. Currently you are actively involved in two associations. What motivates you to do that?
I want to play a part in shaping the life of society and believe that every individual can get involved and change something in a democracy. It is important to me to pass the Jewish culture on to younger generations and to support them in strengthening their Jewish identity. I also had to find a way to tap into my own Jewish self-awareness at first. My parents, who prior to their migration to Germany had lived in Ukraine until the 1990s, had no opportunity to practise their religion in the Soviet Union. As a result, a lot of knowledge about the Jewish tradition was lost in our family. I was aware that I was Jewish, but without understanding exactly what that meant. As an adolescentI was therefore happy that the Jewish community offered opportunities to learn more about Jewish life. By engaging with Jewish history and culture I became acquainted with, and learnt to love, Judaism and the diversity of what it means to be Jewish. I wish to pass on this knowledge.
What are the objectives you pursue in your official roles?
As president of the JSUD, the first political and nationwide group that represents the interests of young Jews in Germany, I am keen to bring the issues, needs and ideas of young Jewish people to the communities and to German society. I want to open up spaces for debate and help shape political processes. In this context, it is important to me to foster cross-party dialogue and bring together the various strands of Judaism. Far too often, Jews still encounter anti-Semitism. For this reason, some seek to conceal their Jewish identity. We must change this.
It is my opinion that we need an even more nuanced picture of Jewish life in Germany: Unfortunately, the word “Jew” is often still associated only with anti-Semitism, the Holocaust or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Which facets of Jewish life should people be focusing on?
I want to draw attention to the positive sides and diversity of the Jewish community in Germany. Many young Jews actively help shape this society. Their “Jewishness” is part of their personality, which comprises numerous different facets. As vice president of the German-Israeli Society, my focus is on promoting the bilateral partnership between Germany and Israel: German-Israeli cooperation has enormous potential in many areas. Both countries can learn a lot from the other, which is why I want to strengthen intergovernmental discourse. I am glad to have the chance to communicate the perspective of young Jews to the Federal Presidium.
What have you achieved with your voluntary work?
Before becoming vice president of the German-Israeli Society, I was chair of the Young Forum, the organisation for members of the German-Israeli Society aged between 14 and 35. During that time we noticed that more young people were becoming interested in German-Israeli friendship. At present, nearly half of the members of the German-Israeli Society are younger than 35 – a great success.
I also succeeded with the JSUD in significantly raising the profile of young Jewish culture and its diversity in Germany. In 2022, we in Germany spent the year celebrating 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. We organised numerous events and campaigns with the JSUD. My generation of young Jews is self-confident, resilient and politically active. And I’m delighted about that.
The fight against anti-Semitism is a challenge for society as a whole that can only be overcome by working together. To be able to live together in a free and resilientdemocracy we all have a responsibility to combat the spread of resentment, hatred and anti-Semitic narratives in everyday life.